1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    My book has no soul

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by JosephMarch, Mar 14, 2015.

    I just finished reading a popular novel that was so wonderful and descriptive, not only of thoughts and words but feelings. I realized something about my own beloved book: it is missing heart and soul. That sounds cheesy, and it is, but it's also true.
    I love the book I wrote. I love the story. But it needs a lot more. It needs to conjure up more of what's in the characters' heads besides thoughts.
    I am new to writing, unless you count the writing done in school, but I am enrolled in a writers' workshop that I am excited about attending.
    Until then, any tips on how to inject some emotion? I feel silly even posting this, but am glad I was able to realize it now, when I can still fix it.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you have character arcs for your book? Like, do your main characters have something internal to overcome as well as something external?

    I think it depends on genre, but often the internal conflict is the most important part of the book. Try to figure out how your characters' flaws interact with their environments and with the other characters, and how they change over the course of the story.

    Maybe.
     
  3. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Yes, they have obstacles to overcome. The book's main characters are 17, so there should be a lot of natural angst, feelings, and depth to them, as most teenagers are. But I don't have my main female character thinking about any of that. She is very concrete now, not very deep. I thought I was writing her deep, but no, no I wasn't. Not at all. I suppose I need to add more description, and that will help.
    I went back into my first draft and saw a note to myself in the margin of one scene: "but what is she FEELING?" (like I was playing my own English teacher for a minute).
    I suppose I should have written in it the margin of a lot more scenes.
     
  4. Lotti
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    Lotti New Member

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    I always find that a character's emotion is best conveyed through action and reaction. For example, when your character is sad, have her hide under a blanket and cry into her pillow for a while, or when she's angry have her snap at someone. Even just showing her hesitating at the right time can do a lot for conveying uncertainty.

    If you're using first or close third person, you can also show how she feels by the way she phrases her thoughts, or by the tone they take.

    What exactly do you mean when you say that your character is very concrete? More like her actions and goals are very clear to the audience or that she is very confident in what she does and not easily shaken? Because the latter isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    I hope that helped.
     
  5. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    I meant that I have written her concretely, without much insight to what is going on in her head. She is closed off to the reader, but I don't want her to be. I need to go back and open her up a bit.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps what you need to do right now is stop writing and start envisioning. Go off somewhere by yourself, where you won't get interrupted, and see if you can will yourself into each scene. Don't worry about describing anything, just concentrate on what your characters are feeling, and thinking.

    If your girl character's boyfriend is ignoring her at a party, pretend you are in her shoes. Let the feelings flood over you. How do you react? Do you pretend nothing is wrong and carry on as if he's behaving normally? Do you ask him what's wrong? Do you leave the room? Leave the house? Leave the country? What, if anything, are other people telling you? Are they saying you have nothing to worry about, and giving good reasons? Or are they avoiding speaking to you about it?

    See how deeply you can experience what your character is experiencing. Keep a notebook handy while you're doing this immersion, and scribble down anything that occurs to you that seems worth saving, including scraps of dialogue. Sometimes you'll surprise yourself. When you're looking at a scene like this from the point of view of writing it down to serve the plot, you may well grab the first cliche that enters your head. She's sad. Oh dear. How do I convey sad? Well she cries. And her nose starts running, and she looks terrible, and and and....

    However, what you might actually discover, when you are in her shoes that, while she is sad, she is also angry. And maybe afraid. And humiliated.

    And maybe it only takes one look from her to bring him quickly back. Or drive him further away. Or maybe he looks at her, and she suddenly realises what he's actually doing. He's pretending not to care because he actually does, and doesn't want anybody else to catch on (for whatever the story reason may be.)

    The deeper and more involved you can get with your characters, the better. Don't just see them, feel them. Don't jump on the first cliche that comes to you, in order to describe their actions. Wait a bit, and really watch them. If you can make yourself really love your characters for what they are as human beings, your readers will love them as well. They should never be mere plot devices.
     
  7. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    If I were in your shoes, I would do nothing to your story right now. I would read some other works that are effective at what you think you need to do. And then I would find a beta reader to get some specific feedback. Someone fresh to the story might come to a different conclusion. You've probably been looking at your story quite a bit with a critical eye and not seeing it like a reader would.
     
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  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to take a wild guess that you missed the lesson on motivation reaction units(MRUs). I'm not going to get into it too much here, because it hasn't been very popular here in the past, however if you treat it as a tool, it should help you.

    Essentially, you need to find a way to organically move between the external and internal worlds of your POV. You can do this by first describing a stimulus, like a fart, then having your POV react to it, either by laughing or scrunching his nose (involuntary reaction) and or deliberately trying to humiliate the perpetrator(voluntary reaction). This goes on. The perpetrator is also a person, presumably with a "soul," so now he reacts to what the POV did, only from your POV, it's another stimulus (or motivator) and we're back to your POVs reaction. How exactly you implement this and how frequently is obviously obviously obviously up to you. It's not really a law. It's a tool. But I would suggest looking through your own work and seeing where this might be implemented. Certainly, a lot of WIPs that iv read, do lack soul because they don't use any sort of MRU at all.
     
  9. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    It would be an idea especially for aspiring horror writers
     

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